California takes important step for public safety with Fire-Safe Cigarette Bill

Published on October 13, 2005
NFPA hopes legislation will lead to nationwide use of fire-safe cigarettes 
October 13, 2005 – California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s recent approval of a bill mandating the use of cigarettes that are much less likely to cause fires will save lives in that state and could lead to nationwide use of such “fire-safe” cigarettes. Last Friday, Governor Schwarzenegger signed AB 178, the California Cigarette Safety and Firefighter Protection Act.

As a result, that legislation, sponsored by California Assemblymember Paul Koretz (D-West Hollywood), will require that all cigarettes sold and manufactured in California after January 1, 2007, will be required to comply with standards demonstrating that they have a reduced propensity to burn when left unattended. Such “fire-safe” cigarettes help prevent smoking-related fires. Each year, smoking-related fires needlessly kill approximately 800 people across the country. They are the leading cause of home fire fatalities and a threat to firefighters and other first responders.

Fire-safe cigarette requirements are already in place in the states of New York and Vermont. A recent preliminary report out of New York showed that the number of deaths caused by cigarette-ignited fires has dropped 33 percent since that state’s fire-safe cigarette requirement went into effect.

“National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has been advocating the use of fire-safe cigarettes for many years,” said James M. Shannon, president of the worldwide safety organization. “The new requirement to use those cigarettes in California will certainly help to save lives and property in that state. But, we also hope the new California law will show tobacco companies that it is time to make fire-safe cigarettes the standard nationwide.”

Shannon also thanked several groups that were involved in making the fire-safe cigarette requirement law in California. Among the groups actively supporting the California legislation were The Trauma Foundation, California Fire Chiefs Association, Northern California Fire Prevention Officers, Southern California Fire Prevention Officers, California State Firefighters’ Association, Los Bomberos of Northern California, National Association of Hispanic Firefighters, International Association of Black Professional Fire Fighters, International Fire Marshals Association, National Association of State Fire Marshals, Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors, American Burn Association, and the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids.

“Those groups and others fought for this legislation because they knew it was the right thing to do,” said Shannon. “All of us at NFPA appreciate their commitment to public safety.”

NFPA has been a worldwide leader in providing fire, electrical, building, and life safety to the public since 1896. The mission of the international nonprofit organization is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education. Visit NFPA’s Web site.